Andy Schachat's On the Run: Marathon different, but still the thrill of a lifetime
My Boston Marathon 2014 day started with interviews on three radio stations. Each host asked questions about how I thought the day would be. As the long day drew to a close, the best way I can describe the last few hours is to revisit those questions.
HOW IS THE SECURITY? Not surprisingly, the increased security was everywhere. More officers, representing a variety of agencies, were clearly visible. Early in the morning, before runners arrived in Hopkinton, Mass., for the start, the officers congregated. As the morning hours passed, the officers went to work. They spread out from the start line to Hopkinton High School, over a half-mile away.
I saw first-hand how security was different. A photographer stopped to take pictures of me. Within two minutes, an officer called out to me, "whose bags are these?" The bags belonged to the photographer who had wandered about 10 feet from the bags while lining up a photo of me. The photographer quickly returned to his bags.
It was no different a few hours later at the finish. As was the case at the start, the increased number of officers was clearly present. The layout was different. Cars were not allowed to get as close to the finish line as they had in the past. Media members did not have the full access they had in the past.
HOW ARE THE EMOTIONS? Two answers to that question. There was less cheering when announcements were made, and there was nowhere near the "upbeat mood" as previous Bostons. Runners seemed to have their "game faces" on.
The finish line was a different story. The emotions of finishing this year's Boston Marathon were clearly evident. Tears of joy, relief, and a combination of the two flowed from many runners. Hugs and high fives were the order of the day. That was particularly true for a few runners who finished this year's Boston Marathon after having been forced to stop last year. The feelings that many had bottled up inside for the past few months came flowing out once the race was done.
WOULD IT BE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BOSTONS? The answer to that question is different for each person, whether it was a runner, volunteer or spectator.
For yours truly, the day was vastly different from the past. At previous Bostons, my day consisted of announcing in Hopkinton at the start then driving to the finish in time to see the winners and the top New Hampshire runners.
I knew going in that my typical plans would have to be altered. Knowing that parking at the finish in the middle of the race would be nearly impossible I parked near the start in the morning, got a ride to Hopkinton, and a ride back to the finish. Unlike the past, I didn't come close to getting to the finish before the top runners. The size of the race meant my time in Hopkinton was longer. The last runner crossed the start line more than two hours after the elite women and 90 minutes after the elite men. My only hope would be to greet some of the top Granite State runners. Unfortunately I had to depend on others to get me back to Boston and we didn't leave the start area until the top runners had finished. It also meant I didn't get back to the media center until all the food was gone.
IS IT STILL GOING TO BE FUN? The Boston Marathon is always the greatest day of the year on the New England road race scene. In 2014, well over 30,000 runners did what Boston Marathon runners have done for decades. They ran 26.2 miles, from the center of Hopkinton, Mass., to the Boston Public Library. Hundreds of thousands of spectators took advantage of beautiful weather as they cheered and partied along the course. The race organizers pledged that in 2014 the Boston Marathon would be what it has always been, a spectacular event, and they delivered.
As for me. Yes, I was disappointed about some of the changes, but at the end of a long day, I literally got a thrill of a lifetime.
Know anyone else who got to take a photo on race day with the winner?
Andy Schachat writes a column every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.